YEAR: 1931

STRAIGHT - Mystery Mare

Colin McLaughlin was a man who did things his way. So there is mystery how a mare he bought as a young man in Ladbrooks(where his father Andy bred trotters) and did not produce her first winner until she was 17, led McLaughlin on a magic racing journey. The stream of unfashionably bred top class horses from one owner/trainer in a relatively short time is un-equalled and in these days of mass production will probably remain that way.

The first mare was Straight and her trip toward the limelight really began when McLaughlin, by then battling to make a go of farming in Mt Hutt, sent her to Young Bob, a Methven based stallion. The result, Sedate, won four for him and when she went to stud, her first three foals, Morsel, Flying Mile and Allakasam began a stunning run of form. Allakasam won an incredible seven Cup races including the Auckland, Easter and New Brighton editions. Flying Mile left the famous 'ugly duckling' Manaroa, one of the real characters of harness racing whose NZ Cup run was so phenomenal and then Manawaru with her first two foals. Morsel left the Auckland Cup winner, Royal Ascot.

McLaughlin had made the outwardly strange decision to breed his own stallion to his mares and bought Prince Charming for the purpose. Like Young Bob he was a Globe Derby line horse and the unusual double cross results were simply amazing.

Then, like a tap turning off, the Straight tribe wilted then virtually disappeared. There were winners of course and one or two good ones because Colin bred a lot of horses. Allakasam left Jaunty Hanover and Allspice and Morsel left Nimble Yankee and Remorse. Because he had so many mares Colin tended to mix visits to top studs with cheaper 'Hail Mary' stallions who didn't make the grade. The new generation of American blood did not seem to click and the blood thinned.

Then, in the mid 1980s, an unfashionably bred horse called Borana became the longest odds winner in the history of the NZ Cup for Peter Jones. Straight was his fourth dam. The family had finally won the Cup. These things happen in breeding but not often however does a back country farmer who went to Ellesmere instead of the U.S. to buy a stallionachiev so much with the results.

Credit: David McCarthy writing in Harnessed June 2016


YEAR: 1998

Colin McLaughlin with Silver De Oro after the 1931 Sapling Stakes

Colin McLaughlin has never been one to complain. When the golden run by the carriers of the Royal Stewart tartan were over, Colin enjoyed his racing no less. When moderates Dainty Dish and Meadow Pam carried the flag in place of Manaroa, Allakasam, Royal Ascot, Nimble Yankee and Manawaru - who between them won 75 races in NZ - Colin didn't rush to recall how racing used to be.

But he complained to me. "I've never stopped working, but in the last month I haven't done a thing. I haven't felt like it. I've had a fairly big operation. I'm 80 in July. I hope I get there.

Colin is not as fit and well as he would like to be. He put great discomfort behind him on the day of the Hororata trots so he could see Rosy Score race at Ashburton. Physical problems have not diminished Colin's alert mind, nor his ability to succinctly give his opinion on any matter in the harness racing industry.

Two events this season, quite insignificant in themselves, have disclosed the long arm of Colin's estate in harness racing. The first was the death of Allakasam, the daughter of Fallacy and Sedate who won the McLaughlins 18 races, including the 1967 Auckland Cup, the Hannon Memorial, the New Brighton Cup and the Easter Cup. And the second was the accomplishment of exhibiting the best-presented colt - by Kanturk from Morose - at the yearling sale conducted by Pyne Gould Guinnes in January and the runner-up, one by Preux Chevalier from Alleviate.

But Colin's involvement in racing was mobile long before Allakasam. He was the strapper for Silver De Oro, winner of the Sapling Stakes in 1931, and to Blair Athol, a good Rey De Oro horse who went on to run third in Lucky Jack's NZ Cup when trained by Dick Humphreys. In 1932 he had his first horse, Llewellyn's Pride. A son of Llewellyn, Llewellyn's Pride won his first race at Motukara in 1934. Colin said he paid more than 100 in winning the Wairewa Trot. He was 16/17 in the betting, but the Year Book of the day recorded favouritism but not dividends.

At the time of this success for the young man and for a further seven years, the family farmed at Halswell, on ground leased by the Travis Cancer Research Company. In 1939, when the lease expired, Colin moved to Mount Hutt. The same year, Colin moved in the direction that within two or three generations was going to yield remarkable results on the racetracks of New Zealand and Australia.

"I was able to lease Straight from Eugene McDermott's father. She was a nice pacer, by Jack Potts. She only won the one race. That was in 1939 when the war broke out. I was told she was mad when I leased her but I liked her and later bought the freehold of her. That was the taprootof this family. The best thing I ever did in my life was taking Straight to be mated with Young Bob. I was looking for Globe Derby blood. Young Bob was by Robert Derby, by Springfield Globe, who was by Globe Derby."

Young Bob and Straight gave him Sedate, who produced the grand racemare Allakasam, and two special broodmares, Morsel (by Fallacy) and Flying Mile (by Flying Song). The best of Allakasam's progeny were Allspice (by Estes Minbar) who won eight races, and Jaunty Hanover (by Jersey Hanover) whose eight wins included the Methven Cup and the Queen's Birthday Stakes. She is also the dam of Colarno (by Locarno), who on March 11 gave Wellington OTB committeeman Ron Stechman his first success as a trainer.

The winner of four races, Morsel left Nimble Yankee, the winner of 11 races including the 1977 Pan Am Mile and Royal Ascot, whose crowning achievement was winning the Auckland Cup; his placings were in such events as three Derbies, the Miracle Mile, Inter-Dominion heats and an Inter-Dominion Grand Final. Morsel also left Morose, the dam of Colin's latest racing interest, Rosy Score.

Flying Mile left Manawaru and Manaroa, two outstanding pacers sired by Prince Charming. Like Royal Ascot, Manaroa won 18 races, but he picked up the greater part of his earnings from placings in such feature races as the Inter-Dominion Grand Final, the Auckland and NZ Cups and the Miracle Mile. "I sent Flying Mile to Morano because his staying ability appealed to me. Manaroa and Morano were two of a kind; they both had the same failing of being able to begin," said Colin.

Manawaru and Royal Ascot were by Prince Charming, a son of Springfield Globe who won a few races for Mr E E Johnson of Irwell. "He was out of a mare I used to race and he had a lovely disposition. It was the Globe Derby blood I wanted. I thought I'd get him for 100, but I was able to buy him for 70 quineas," he said. "I just did my own mares, and a few for some mates. There wasn't really a mug amongst them. The point about all of mine was that I didn't has to put a boot on them. Where they got their good gait from I've never worked out; it might have been through Lawn Derby...he was poetry in motion."

Sitting back in the sun, totally impatient with his inactivity, Colin reflected on some other aspects of his harness racing world..."I'm disappointed with the results I've had to high-bred American stallions. I've been to seven and the results have been minimal...I had faith in Regal Yankee. He gave me Nimble Yankee and Jaunty Hanover and they both measured up...I had a soft spot for Manaroa. If they had had three mile races he would have won them all. You just had to wait until he got his legs going...I've never missed a Cup since 1923, when Great Hope won...I mucked around; I still maintain they were half-trained horses.

The death occurred early in February 1998 of Colin McLaughlin.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 22Mar89

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